How did the Yankees follow up what arguably was the worst loss of their season?
With an even worse defeat.
The bullpen imploded a second straight game last night, coughing up a five-run lead by allowing five runs in the seventh and four in the eighth and stunning a Stadium crowd of 44,117 that included managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.
And the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 12-8, a night after coming back for a 9-8, 10-inning victory.
According to YES, it was the first time since September 1949 that the Yankees have lost back-to-back games in which they scored at least eight runs each time. Boston has 21 runs, 31 hits and 12 walks in the first two games of the four-game series.
"That's a tough loss," said Andy Pettitte, who allowed three runs and five hits with eight strikeouts in six innings and departed with an 8-3 lead. "They're all tough right now."
The Yankees (75-66) remained 2½ games behind the Rays -- who lost to the Mariners, 6-4, Friday night in Seattle -- in the race for the second wild card. The Yankees were in prime position to gain ground the last two nights and didn't -- but they didn't lose any, either.
"I don't ever get discouraged," Joe Girardi said.
Give it time.
Girardi already had a short bullpen Friday night with Mariano Rivera and David Robertson unavailable because of recent workloads. Girardi disclosed after the game that Robertson will be down for the next five to six days after an MRI showed shoulder tendinitis. And Boone Logan, who allowed Mike Napoli's tying two-out grand slam in the five-run seventh, left the game with a sore left biceps. "It did affect me a little bit," said Logan, who will have an MRI Saturday.
Shane Victorino's two-run blast in the eighth off Preston Claiborne, victimized the night before for three runs, made it 10-8. Joba Chamberlain, who took Thursday's loss, couldn't stop the bleeding, and by the time he was booed off the mound after the eighth, it was 12-8.
Things quickly got ugly after Pettitte left.
Phil Hughes, banished to the bullpen earlier in the week, started the seventh. His night ended much the way many of his starts did this season -- with him being booed off the mound.
The righthander, 4-13 with a 4.86 ERA as a starter this season, allowed a leadoff single to David Ross. Victorino singled with one out and pinch hitter Mike Carp walked to load the bases. Alex Rodriguez couldn't get Dustin Pedroia on his trickler to third, and the infield hit made it 8-4.
"Obviously a terrible inning," Hughes said. "This time of year, terrible innings cost you big time. Just a rough night all around."
In came Logan to face David Ortiz, and he got the lefthanded-hitting Yankee-killer looking at a full-count slider. But in an eight-pitch at-bat, Napoli fouled off consecutive 3-and-2 offerings before hitting one just over the leaping Ichiro Suzuki and off the top of and over the rightfield wall for his 19th homer, tying it at 8-8.
"We had some guys coming in there that were in unfamiliar territory tonight. We had a couple of our guys that were down," Pettitte said. "And it exploded on us. It's a loss. At this point, they all hurt."
Notes & quotes: Pettitte is 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in his last six starts, and the bullpen has cost him two victories . . . Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th homer of the season and 13th with the Yankees . . . The Yankees purchased the contract of righthander Matt Daley, a Garden City product who had not pitched in the big leagues since 2011 as he recovered from rotator cuff surgery. Daley, who was born in Flushing and moved to Garden City when he was 11, struck out two in a scoreless ninth . . . David Huff, 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in nine relief appearances with the Yankees, takes Hughes' spot in the rotation today. "If you're going in without confidence, you're probably going to get shelled," Huff said . . . Shawn Kelley, sidelined since Monday with triceps inflammation, played catch and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today. Girardi said if that goes well, he should be available next week . . . Kevin Youkilis will head to Tampa on Monday to begin rehabbing, holding out the long-shot hope that he can return by the season's final week.